One of the most pressing health issues facing aging folks is falling. Falling can increase the chance of a severe bone break that has the potential to hinder your life.
It might be crazy to think that most people fall when out for an unassuming walk. They can even happen on the way from the living room to the kitchen.
Concentration can get a little tougher in older age. A slight lapse—answering the phone, chatting with a friend, or moving your focus—can lead to a slip. The only real way to combat these realities are with bettering balance, mobility, and faster reaction times.
Which is why dancing could be a big help.
Dancing and “dance-based-mind-motor activities,” like tai chi, can lower the frequency and risk for falls. At least that’s what a recent review published in JAMA Network Open is saying.
Researchers found that a good old-fashioned boogie could reduce falls by 31% and the risk for a fall by 37%.
Dancing and other mind-motor activities involve upright movements emphasizing balance and inner rhythm, like breathing. Instructions and choreography can help as they allow for mental focus as participants transition between movements.
Choreography, however, is likely not required to experience the potential benefits of dancing. Being up, mobile, agile, and moving on through your own moves is likely to offer the same benefits for balance, multitasking, and reaction time.
But starting with a teacher or a choreographer is recommended.
Intentional focus allows dancers to make controlled movements and weight distributions, helping to build mind-body connections to lead to better balance and faster reactions when balance is lost.
If dancing isn’t your thing, tai chi might be. In any event, before jumping into such activities, it’s best to acclimate yourself to increased activity. Start with slow, focused walks. Once mobility has improved, you can branch out more safely.
Positive associations between dance and mobility, balance, and lower leg strength all make it a great tool to reduce the risk of falls. Protect your bones by staying upright!